Australian AEW&C will take off from Ramstein to monitor Ukraine
The Royal Australian Air Force is preparing to send an E-7A Wedgetail to Germany for its first operational deployment in Europe. The aircraft will monitor military and humanitarian supplies reaching Ukraine.
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The Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, announced the deployment today, following yesterday’s news about a $1 billion defense deal between Australia and Germany. German military personnel are also scheduled to visit Australia this month for the multinational Exercise Talisman Sabre.
Albanese stressed the significance of this mission, indicating it represents Australia’s commitment to aiding Ukraine. The Australian government has already sent armored vehicles, artillery pieces, and training support to Ukraine.
Although not a NATO member, Australia maintains close relations with the alliance and its members, including Germany, the US, and the UK. The upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, which Albanese will attend, is expected to focus heavily on Ukraine.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Richard Marles, highlighted the E-7A Wedgetail’s role in enhancing early warning capability and supporting Ukraine in a recent press release. He also emphasized Australia’s commitment to maintaining Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The press release also mentioned that the Australian Defense Force will send an E-7A Wedgetail aircraft and up to 100 crew and support personnel to Germany for six months starting in October. The mission aims to protect the route for international humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.
The E-7A Wedgetail will be deployed to support aid delivery to Ukraine. It will operate outside of, Belarus, and Ukraine’s airspace. The aircraft will not engage in the conflict but will observe from a distance.
The E-7A, created by Boeing, is a combat-tested control node based on the 737-700 Next Generation airliner airframe. It provides 360-degree coverage of airborne and maritime threats thanks to Northrop Grumman’s MESA sensor. The Wedgetail can efficiently share data with other friendly assets. More details can be found in a past War Zone feature.
The location for stationing the Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] E-7A is Ramstein Air Base. NATO’s E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System [AWACS] is based at Geilenkirchen Air Base in Germany. The E-7A shares similar mission objectives with the Sentry.
NATO E-3s and U.S. Air Force Sentry AWACS have been monitoring the airspace over Ukraine for several months. Other NATO aircraft have been providing additional intelligence well before Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
The Australian E-7A mission will focus on ensuring the safe delivery of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Despite Russian threats, they have not yet struck Western aid shipments. Inside Ukraine, Russia has failed to stop the flow of Western weapons. Ukraine’s denial of Russian air superiority has exacerbated this issue. Russia has not shown the ability to destroy Western aid.
The E-7 provides advanced early warning for aerial threats, which could prove invaluable for Ukrainian air defenders. The RAAF E-7A’s deployment coincides with the U.S. Air Force’s plans to retire its E-3 fleet and replace some with E-7As. Future sensor capabilities will form another part of the Sentry replacement plan.
NATO is considering replacing its E-3s set to retire in 2035. The E-7A could be a potential successor. Having a Wedgetail based in Germany could provide NATO officials with a chance to evaluate the aircraft. NATO member Turkey, the Royal Air Force [RAF] in the United Kingdom, and South Korea also use similar aircraft to the E-7A. These operators benefit from the large international supplier base for the Boeing 737 series. An Australian E-7A is set to land in Germany soon, to ensure the continuous flow of aid to Ukraine.
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